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Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images Robin Van Persie: mainstay of fantasy football teams the world over.
AS IT HAPPENED
As it happened: Premier League 3 o'clocks
Arsenal v West Brom, Chelsea v Blackburn, Alex Ferguson marking a quarter-century at Old Trafford and much, much more: Miguel Delaney was on hand for rolling updates, polls and the best from the twittersphere.

Send us your thoughts and comments on this afternoon’s action. Tweet us @mdelaneyst and @thescore_iefind us on Facebook, or leave a comment below.

Arsenal 3-0 West Brom

Aston Villa 3-1 Norwich

Blackburn 0-1 Chelsea

Liverpool 0-0 Swansea

Manchester United 1-0 Sunderland

Today’s key questions

A special weekend in the Premier League: and not just because, for the first time this season, all of the recent “big four” are playing at 3pm on Saturday. No, it is of course Alex Ferguson’s silver jubilee. And there are far more pressing questions than whether he will retire any time soon (not likely).

Arsenal v West Brom

Can Robin van Persie keep up this ridiculous strike rate of over a goal a game in 2011 (28 in 27)?

Or will West Brom do what they should have against Liverpool last week and close up tight to their box, making life difficult again for Arsenal?

Aston Villa v Norwich City

Can Villa leapfrog Norwich in the table by claiming their first win in four and staving off some of the resurgent criticism for Alex McLeish?

Or is this game destined to finish a draw? Villa, after all, have lost more points from winning positions than any other team this season (nine) while Norwich have hit a series of equalisers.

Blackburn Rovers v Chelsea

Can Chelsea get back on track and end a run of two straight defeats against an eminently beatable Blackburn Rovers?

Or will Rovers accentuate signs of recent improvement and attack a Chelsea team that seem to be there for the taking?

Will John Terry start after so much turmoil?

Can Chelsea keep a cleansheet for the first time in 10 games? And if not now, when?

Liverpool v Swansea City

Will the dam break for Liverpool? After creating so many chances recently, can they start to put them away – particularly at home?

Can Swansea take inspiration from Norwich’s draw at Anfield and improve their relatively poor away form this season?

Manchester United v Sunderland

Can Manchester United recapture their thrilling early season form and produce a performance worthy of Alex Ferguson’s 25th anniversary?

Or can Steve Bruce break a habit and get an unlikely first win over his old boss? It’s perhaps unlikely given that Ferguson is said to particularly hate dropping points to his former players.

What price Sebastian Larsson to hit a long-range effort today? The midfielder has a superb conversion rate of late and United – up until last week – have allowed an inordinate amount of long shots.

QPR v Manchester City

Can QPR repeat their heroics against Chelsea and destabilise Manchester City?

Can City thrive without David Silva, who is likely to miss out today with a back problem incurred against Villarreal? With him, City have scored more goals after 10 games of a Premier League season (36) than any team since 1992.

Can City keep their defensive solidity without the suspended Vincent Kompany?

Team news:

Manchester United: Lindegaard, Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Fletcher, Rooney, Park, Nani, Welbeck, Hernandez

Sunderland: Westwood, Bardsley, Brown, Turner, Richardson, Cattermole, Colback, Larsson, Wickham, Sessegnon, Bendtner

News at Old Trafford is that the Manchester United players will give Ferguson a guard of honour as he emerges from the tunnel today.

Liverpool will be unchanged, meaning Carroll and Suarez start together again.

Team news:

Aston Villa: Given, Hutton, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, N’Zogbia, Herd, Petrov, Heskey, Bent, Agbonlahor

Norwich: Ruddy, Naughton, Russell Martin, Barnett, Tierney, Bennett, Johnson, Hoolahan, Pilkington, Holt, Morison

Team news:

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Henderson, Lucas, Adam, Downing, Carroll, Suarez

Swansea: Vorm, Rangel, Monk, Williams, Taylor, Gower, Britton, Allen, Routledge, Graham, Dyer

Blackburn: Robinson, Lowe, Samba, Givet, Olsson, Rochina, Nzonzi, Pedersen, Hoilett, Formica, Yakubu

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Alex, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Mikel, Lampard, Mata, Sturridge, Malouda

No Torres for Chelsea as Andre Villas-Boas changes up!

Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Andre Santos, Ramsey, Song, Arteta, Walcott, van Persie, Gervinho

West Brom: Foster, Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Jones, Morrison, Dorrans, Brunt, Cox, Gera, Thomas

Hello, Conor Nagle here. Just taking over from Miguel while he makes an appearance on the outdated medium that is radio. La-di-da.

Alex Ferguson has been granted a guard of honour at Old Trafford… only minutes after this message, from everyone’s favourite FIFA chief, appeared online:

Such an honour.

Chelsea have started brightly at Ewood Park, while over at Anfield, Andy Carroll’s missed a sitter from about six yards out.

Elaborating on a theme established by Liverpool’s pony-tailed target man, Blackburn podgemeister Yakuba has pulled, well, a Yakubu at Ewood Park.

Ah, memories.

Chelsea’s keeper, Petr Cech, and West Brom’s Jonas Olsson have both picked up blood injuries. I’m assuming these incidents are entirely unrelated.

Although…

Give me a goal! Someone, anyone!

GET IN! Arsenal 1-0 West Brom (Van Persie)

Mikel Arteta sets Walcott through on goal, but the winger’s shot is blocked. Fret not, Gunners fans; the rebound fell to Robin Van Persie, and we all know that goes. It’s the Dutchman’s eighth goal in four Premier League starts.

Another one! Aston Villa 0-1 Norwich (Pilkington)

A laser-guided free-kick from Anthony Pilkington finds the top corner of the Aston Villa net. Delia will be thrilled, no doubt.

BREAKING: In addition to the stadium’s North Stand, Alex Ferguson’s getting his own Old Trafford statue.

BOOM! Aston Villa 1-1 Norwich (Bent)

Darren Bent, harnessing his footballing superpower, materialises inside the Norwich six-yard box to knife home a loose ball.

Arsenal 2-0 West Brom (Vermaelen)

Arsenal’s Belgian centre-half thumps home a squared pass from Robin Van Persie to score his first goal in nearly two years. Granted, he didn’t play an awful lot of football in that period of time, but still…

Useless stat of the day:

Manchester United 1-0 Sunderland (Brown, OG)

Danny Welbeck hassle’s Wes Brown into nodding a catastrophic header into his own net, then takes credit for the goal. Last time I checked, making physical contact with the ball was still considered a crucial factor in determining a goal’s scorer.

Sorry about that folks, Miguel back here. A slight technical hitch there.

GOAL! Blackburn 0-1 Chelsea

Chelsea finally break the deadlock as Branislav Ivanovic superbly swerves in a cross from the right for Lampard to meet with a diving header.

GOAL! Aston Villa 2-1 Norwich

Agbonlahor capitalises on Leon Barnett’s woeful backpass to surge clear and finish.

GOAL! Aston Villa 3-1 Norwich

Agbonlahor – who’s having a stormer – sets up Darren Bent to finish.

Controversy at Old Trafford as Lee Mason stops to consider whether it should ahve been a penalty to Sunderland. As Sebastian Larsson whipped in a cross, Nemanja Vidic – foolishly – had his hand in the air but it didn’t seem to be contact. So Mason appears to have made the correct decision.

All kicking now at Ewood Park as Chelsea have been ignited after that goal.

Oh a brilliant double save from Ireland’s Kieren Westwood! Wayne Rooney blased from close range superbly, only for the parry to fall for Evra. But Westwood got up superbly again to deflect away the rebound.

GOAL! Arsenal 3-0 West Brom

Van Persie cuts back for Arteta to finish sumptuously.

At Anfield, Liverpool are badly lacking drive in midfield and Swansea comfortably frustrating them.

Carroll on, Bellamy off for Liverpool. A good call… Liverpool need more movement.

David Meyler now on for Sunderland, looking to be hopefully over all his injury troubles

GOAL! Aston Villa 3-2 Norwich

Morison pulls one back for Norwich with a header from Holt’s cross.

As Liverpool now lay siege to the Swansea goal, Agger heads just over from Adam corner.

But that off-target effort is also the problem for Liverpool: Vorm hasn’t had to make a save since the 29th minute.

Carrick on for Park at Old Trafford.

Swansea should have taken the lead! Mark Gower blazes over when a bit of patience would surely have made it 1-0.

At Anfield, Kuyt goal ruled out for offside.

It’s probably the right decision for Kuyt. Marginal.

So, despite Merson’s protestations about a woman linesman, she seems to have made the correct call.

From not making a save in almost an hour, Vorm has been superb in the last few minutes, now turning Johnson’s half-volley away.

FULL-TIME: Arsenal 3-0 West Brom

Both Arsenal and Van Persie keep up momentum with an impressive win.

FULL-TIME: Manchester United 1-0 Sunderland

It wasn’t quite the swashbuckling football that Alex Ferguson has aimed for in his 25 years but it was the kind of grit that has characterised them. United claimed their second successive 1-0 win through sheer resolve. That will matter more to Ferguson than anything else.

Ivanovic heads off his own bar at Ewood Park… Chelsea hanging on here!

FULL-TIME Liverpool 0-0 Swansea

Once again, Liverpool start like a train and run out of ideas. That’s becoming a little to familiar – as is a disappointing home draw against a newly promoted team. Liverpool have only won three of their last 10 games against newly promoted sides and this was their fourth home draw of the season. While they may eventually have forced a series of spectacular saves from Vorm, it shouldn’t be forgotten they went almost an hour without even testing him.

Torres misses a howler at Ewood Park.

Torres actually hoofed the ball over from four yards.

FULL-TIME: Aston Villa 3-2 Norwich

Thanks to the magnificent interchanges of Bent and Agbonlahor, Villa claim their first win in four. Although they scarcely deserved it.

FULL-TIME: Blackburn 0-1 Chelsea

Chelsea burst to life in the second half only to then fall dead as Blackburn laid siege. But, because it’s a first cleansheet in 10 and first win in three, the result is much more important than the performance.

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